• Bali & Java

    Another unusual Balinese mask

    Q:  Purchased 02/19/2018 for $10.99.  Raquel, 1293 A:  Everything I just said to Brian applies to Raquel’s mask as well. On both we can see a slightly reduced quality typical of tourist masks. Those made for professional dancers are much finer… and more expensive. Most of these, both tourist and professional, come from either Mas or Singapadu, Bali, and are produced by hereditary carvers with excellent training. Please let us know who this guy is!  C+

  • Bali & Java

    Full Balinese mask

    Q:  I recently purchased this mask on eBay but it is not like any other Balinese mask I’ve found. I’m wondering if it really is from Bali and what character it represents if it is. Here is the listing url as well: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Hand-Carved-Balinese-Wooden-Mask/112799483992?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649   Brian, 1292 A:  This is one I haven’t seen before. There are so many different characters in the traditional dance dramas. Sometimes the uncommon ones also show up in the tourist shops, such as yours did. Maybe someone will help us with its name, but probably you will have to do some searching on Google. 

  • Bali & Java

    Javanese tourist mask

    Q:  Would like to know origin of this mask. Very light weight and paint looks original. Bought, as usual, at a thrift shop. Thinking Java?  Mickey, 1285 A:  It is from Java, but not old. It is easy to see that this decorative wall-hanging was quickly carved, painted with some nice colors, and then antiqued to make it look old. Antiquing is easy to do with stained varnish and a rag. On this piece it is obvious, but some mask makers are very skilled and can fool you. Mickey bought it at a thrift store for very little money, but some tourists pay a lot more thinking the mask is…

  • Bali & Java

    Javanese traditional dance mask

    Q:  I purchased a mask at an antique dealer estate sale for $5 because I thought it was interesting. I think it may be Javanese. It’s made of thin wood and measures just under 7″ x 6″ wide. Would you know approximate age, origin & value?  Kevin,  1223 A:  As I say on the website, we do appraisals for a fee. I can tell your colorful lady is a character in one of the classic dance dramas of Java, and certainly worth more than you paid. The carving quality is good but the painting is below average. None the less, it will look good on the wall. I can’t tell…

  • Bali & Java

    Petruk from East Java

    Q:  Missed the boat on buying this one about a year ago. The craftsmanship utilizes high detail in many areas, and its clearly been danced.  Nate, 1193 A:  This character, known as Petruk, is easy to recognize by his long nose. Sorry you didn’t get it. The carving is fabulous. As you know, masks of Java and Bali and other parts of Indonesia are inspired by Indian influences which were originally used to propagate religious principles and dramas from the Hindu epics such as the Ramayana or Mahabarata. These masks depict archetypal characters like demons, deities, heroes, gods and villains. Masks of the World has a separate chapter for Bali & Java.      …

  • Bali & Java

    Classic dance mask from Java

    Q:  I have 6 authentic Javanese dancing masks from the early 1900’s. We got them from a parent who was an original member of the Denishawn school of dancing in Los Angeles in 1915.  The masks were part of a world tour.  It’s possible there are pictures of the dancers with the masks.  I did some research on Denishawn dance and if you are a dancer then you know what its all about.  Tracie, 1158 A:  It’s nice to see a group of characters from a Javanese traditional dance drama, though I will use just one for this blog. It would be Sita, the beautiful queen of the great king…

  • Bali & Java

    Cheap Balinese tourist mask from 1960’s

    Q:  This is one of three masks my parents bought on a trip to Indonesia in the 1960s.  I’m pretty sure they bought them on Bali.  They were there with the Washington State Wheat Commission.  I don’t know how much they paid but I’m sure not much. I have looked at images online and have not seen much that looks like my masks so I was hoping you might know something about them.  I have read some of your other posts so I understand they might not have value.  I just like them and would like to have some background if you have any to offer.  Noreen, 1115 A:  I…

  • Bali & Java

    Javanese traditional dance mask

    Q:  I bought this mask at an auction as part of a box of mixed china. It is made from wood. Hand carved and painted. It seems to be for a child (or just to hang up) as it is only 16.5cm (6 1/2 inches) high by 14cm (5 1/2 inches) wide. I would love to know what it is.  Penny, 1087 A:  Your mask is from East Java, the main island of Indonesia. On the back you can see it bears the name Djemang Keraros (sp?), a character in one of the dance dramas that are based on the Ramayana or Mahabarata epics.  He could be a demon, deity,…

  • Bali & Java

    Subali the monkey king

    Let’s look at a professional dance mask from Bali. It would be danced in the Wayang Wong, one of the famous Hindu dance dramas that are still performed on the island. As you can see, it is very skilfully carved, painted and decorated. Masks of this quality are used by the well-known dance companies, and occasionally purchased by serious collectors and museums. This one comes from the Setiadarma House of Mask and Puppet in Bali. Fortunately this tradition is still alive and well in Bali.  1083 Save

  • Bali & Java

    Little Rangda mask

      Q:  Can you please tell me something about this mask? It measures 11cm x 11cm, with the fabric tongue adding 20cm extra. It came from the Indonesian family of my wife. Many thanks in advance.  Herman, 1061 A:  Technically this is not a true mask. It is half the size and was not made to be worn, at least, not on a face. There are no eye holes or straps. We know that some cultures use small “masks” to put on their houses as a protective omen, hang from a belt, tourist souvenir, etc. Do the Balinese people use small Rangdas (a very famous dance drama character) for anything…